“Your network creates your net worth.”

When I first heard those words I thought, ‘oh boy, another one of those sayings…’

Part of the reason was because I really didn’t like networking and didn’t want this to be true at all!

By all definitions I am an extrovert, chatty and like people, so why would I dislike networking? Well, for a start, I feel terribly uncomfortable in a group of more than six. Standing with a cup or glass and holding ‘intelligent’ conversation with people who know more about everything than I do, scares me. Who am I to talk to these people?

More importantly, why would they want to talk to me!

When I started Soul’s Compass, I was forced to step out of my comfort zone: AKA growth opportunity! Who would know about the gifts I have if I didn’t turn up, be present and open my mouth?

So, I joined the first networking group I could find. Turned up bright and breezy only to find everyone cringed when I spoke. It was a total nightmare. No-one wanted my card. I couldn’t get in to any of the groups to talk, when I did crack a group, they dispersed within seconds of me opening my mouth. I came home and cried.

Never again, I vowed.

But, then an idea struck me: ‘If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain’ (Francis Bacon).

If I couldn’t network effectively at other events, why not start my own. So I did. Healerzone Enfield was born from the Healerzone Global Group.

This was only half the answer though, I still wasn’t great at seamlessly being part of groups with more than about six people. If I was, I would babble nonsensically and degenerate into a socially awkward mess.

Another idea struck me, get all your clients together for a charitable showcase event and help them meet the public. What a growth opportunity!

After getting a group of awesome women together to run the charity event with me, it became even more apparent: to meet the very goals I had set, I’d need to speak to the outside world.

Oh boy, here comes another growth opportunity…

To say I was on a mission would be an understatement. After several previously failed networking attempts, I had to get this ‘right’. I did a lot of youtube, googling and facebooking.

I was still sitting at my desk tough. The real world was out there and buzzing without me. I needed to suck the past in and get out in the world.

A City Business Library email caught my attention: a workshop on Networking for Introverts by Mary Jane Boholst. Even though I felt a bit of a fraud, I was certain an extrovert would be ok to attend. I’m so glad I did!

Networking is a skill.

Any skill can be learned.

And yes, there are some of you out there born with the networking gene, the rest of us aren’t. We need to learn this skill.

The first networking group I attended following Mary Jane’s workshop, was better than before.

It felt really good to have some key tips to go in with. To feel like I had learned this skill and was now applying it practically was in itself a breakthrough.

I went and explored some other networking groups, some more welcoming than others, some more generous than others. All equally valuable.

The key thing I am learning (yes still learning!) is that people don’t want your business card or even your elevator pitch. They want YOU. Sounds scary, but it’s not.

The best way to show them YOU is to ask them questions. Listen, then respond with a meaningful reply that shows you understand.

When you are networking, or rather building relationships, always have the phrase: ‘how can I serve you?’ in mind.

Give them a referral, connect them to someone or something they are looking for, an introduction, whatever you have. This is how you build relationships.

The Healerzone North London group is a treasure trove of experts all willing to help where they can. For me, this is the perfect way to connect people and help others grow.

My mentor met a wonderful person at a networking event last week, who needed support that I offer. She connected us and the client is now benefitting from both our support. A three-way-win!

Relationships show the real you. Relationships create solid business. Relationships create networks. Networks create net worth.

You do the maths!

Secrets to Successful Networking – Mary Jane Boholst will be talking at Healerzone Enfield on 19th January 2017, booking details & information on soulscompass.net

Cheryl-lya is a Soul Adventurer, helping women around the globe plan, launch and grow successful and sustainable businesses. She runs workshops alongside one-to-one coaching. To contact her: call UK mobile 07527 303 911, or visit her website soulscompass.net and schedule a free Virtual Cuppa. Say ‘hello’ or share your joys via email: cheryllyas@btinternet.com

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